Vet 3985

SHARKHUNTERS Salutes Veterans

HEINZ HARMEL (3985-1994) General,Waffen SS

harmel1a RKEScolor1x During theBattle of France1940,Harmel fought with his company in theNetherlands and France,where he received theIRON CROSS(2nd) then the IRON CROSS(1st) as well as the Infantry Assault Badge. Then,HARMELwent to the south of France. 1 January 1941,he became commander of the 2nd Battalion of the SS-Infanterie-Regiment “Der Führer“. April 1941,he took part in theBalkans Campaign. InBelgrade,hewas promoted to the rank ofSS-Sturmbannführer(Major). June 1941,the German offensive(Operation BARBAROSSA) began against theSoviet Union. Withthe 2. SS-Panzer-Division “Das Reich“),under the command of SS-Gruppenführer Paul Hauser where HARMELtook part in fights near Jelna. For this action,Harmel was awarded theDEUTSCHES KREUZ in GOLDon 29 November 1941.

4 December 1941,HARMELtook command of SS-Infanterie-Regiment “Deutschland“,whose commander,SS-Oberführer Wilhelm Bittrich,replaced SS-Gruppenführer Paul Hausser as divisional commander when he was seriously wounded. HARMELofficially became commander of the SS-Infanterie-Regiment “Deutschland“on 18 June 1942. He was promoted to the rank ofSS-Obersturmbannführer(Lt. Colonel) 20October 1942. During the winter of 1942-1943,HARMELstruggled with his men near Rzhev-Oskol,with courage and selflessness. HARMELparticipated in the capture ofKharkov on 15 March 1943. He distinguished himself by attacking with his regiment at night. To honor these heroic actions,HARMELreceived theKNIGHTS CROSS31 March 1943. He also received theTANK DESTRUCTIONbadge which was was instituted by Adolf Hitler on 9 March 1942 to honor individuals who single-handedly destroyed an enemy tank with hand held explosives. On April 20,1943,HARMELwas promoted to the rank ofSS-Standartenführer(Colonel). 7September 1943,he received theKNIGHTS CROSSwith OAK LEAFand also the FRONTSPANGEin Silver.

From March 1944 to April 1944,SS-Standartenführer HARMELfollowed a training for divisional commanders atHirschberg. On April 1944,he took command of the10th SS Panzer Division “Frundsberg“and on 18 May 1944 he was promoted to SS-Oberführer. On 9 September 1944 he was promoted to the rank ofSS-Brigadeführer and at 38 years of age,he was respectfully called “Der Alte“(The Old Man) by his men,who were often themselves just teenagers. The 10th SS Panzer Division “Frundsberg“theoretically accounted 19,513 men,but it was already greatly reduced by the fighting and never reached this count.

During the summer 1944,the division moved from the Eastern Front to the Western Front in Normandy. HARMELhad been ordered to break the enemy’s lines and to free the German units, trapped at Falaise Pocket. August 1944, approximately 125,000 German soldiers of the 7th Army were encircled. The operation ended with heavy losses and serious damage. HARMEL was then sent to the Netherlands where he fought for the defense of the Reich against the Allied offensive (Operation Market Garden) and he distinguished himself again during the battle. After the fights around Nijmegen he was awarded the KNIGHTS CROSS with OAK LEAF and CROSSED SWORDS 15 December 1944. His division was then transferred to Alsace where he was ordered to establish a bridgehead to join the Colmar Pocket. After the failure of the December 1944/January 1945 offensive in Alsace, his division was transferred to the Eastern Front, initially fighting in Pomerania and Brandenburg to hold the Oder Front. The division was subsequently transferred to Heeresgruppe Mitte (Army Group Middle) where in late April it was ordered to counterattack the forces of Marshal Konev. Obeying such orders would have resulted in the guaranteed destruction of the division – HARMEL refused. Called before Generalfeldmarschal Schoerner, he was dismissed from command of the “Frundsberg” division. SS-Brigadeführer HARMEL ended the war in May 1945, commanding an ad hoc battle group formed around the 24th SS-Karstjäger, the SS Officer’s School at Graz,Austria and other smaller units. The battle group’s mission was to secure the mountain passes along the Austrian – Slovenia border to provide a secure retreat route for German forces fleeing Yugoslavia. HARMEL‘s command was one of the last to surrender and did so to the British forces in Austria.